Recently, Unity Group Director, Harsh Vardhan Bansal joined NewsX for an exclusive interview. Bansal, and Unity Group, got their start in real estate in the early 1996, and haven’t looked back since. “The year was 1996, it was a bad time for real estate, there were recessions and all. People were losing faith in real estate, so what we started, which was something new in the market at time; we got the trust of the customer. We brought in transparency, which was missing then, and is still missing now. We were the first to introduce the concept of announcing the day when your property will be ready.

Speaking on real estate in the pandemic, Bansal mentions how him and his organization are finding new, creative, and innovative ways to keep business going. “We just opened Vegas Mall in Dwarka, right before Covid. It’s the biggest mall in Delhi. We had to frame all kinds of SOPs, introduce lot of new and different technologies, and sanitation procedures. Retina eye cameras, staircase handrails being made into sanitizers etc. We had to adapt to the new normal. And now, people are happy, and they’ve started slowly coming back to malls again. You can’t use the pandemic as an excuse; you have to use this opportunity to take business to the next level.

“The online and the offline are mixed together”, says Bansal. Ever since the pandemic hit, the proportion of online shopping has skyrocketed, and it’s not going to end when the pandemic ends. According to Bansal, this phenomenon will continue beyond the pandemic, and shopping businesses will have to adapt to the change. “Omnichannel is the future of retail now, and it’s going to be this way for some time.”

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The home real estate market, however, is going to grow, he says. “Home is the safest place on earth. Especially during this covid pandemic, its been proven. No place is safer than home, and people are going to wat to feel that kind of security and they’re going to buy homes.”

He also explained to us how the pandemic has created a change in demand as well, and said ”now people want homes where they can adjust room sizes and they have extra space, because if for instance someone gets Covid, they need to quarantine, you’ll need the space. The type of homes wanted is also changing.”

Bansal is much less optimistic about the commercial sector of real estate. He says that many companies are now trying to downsize their properties, as they’re trying to get people to work from home instead. “If you’ve got a staff of 200, you’d at most be looking at office space for 100, and the rest would be working from home.

He feels that the demand will decrease for the time being, but will eventually begin to pick up again. According to him, this will happen because of Chinese companies coming and setting up shop in India. “If the govt gives good trade contracts to Chinese companies, they will come and work here. We are banking that that will help the state of commercial real estate.”

Finally, we asked him about the measures needed for real estate to beat the pandemic, and continue with business. He says, “GST needs to be altered,so that we can cut production costs by around 15%. Secondly, while the government has done a good job by lowering the CRR and the repo rate, the banks have not passed on the same to the end user. They are just looking for lower interest rates on their loans, and we would ask that the government make sure that what is passed on to the banks, is also passed on the people.”

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